Andrew Harnick / AP
A group of Senate Democrats filed an ethics complaint Thursday against Republican Sensor Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz over their objections to the certification of the Jan. 6 presidential election results, which coincided with the deadly Capitol riots in the United States.
Opposing certification, Cruz and Hawley “gave legitimacy” to the violent mob of pro-Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol, a letter sent to incoming Senate Ethics Chairman Chris Koons, De Dell, and Vice President Lford James R-Okla., Said.
The letter, led by Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, called for an investigation into the two members to “fully understand their role” as it relates to the attack on the Capitol and to determine whether disciplinary action is needed.
Whitehouse and the six Democrats who signed the letter wanted information on whether Hawley, Cruz or their staff had been in contact with or coordinated with the rally organizers; what the senators knew about the plans for the January 6 rally; whether they received donations from any of the organizations or donors that funded the rally, and whether the senators “engaged in criminal conduct or unethical or misconduct.”
Until these issues are clarified, “the cloud of uncertainty will hover over them and over this body,” the letter said. Sensei Ron Wyden, Tina Smith, Richard Blumenthal, Mazi Girono, Tim Kane and Sharod Brown also signed.
Hawley of Missouri and Cruz of Texas defended their actions, saying they raised objections to election irregularities in the states that voted for Biden. There is no evidence for such claims.
Hawley said Thursday that Biden and Democrats are “trying to silence disagreements.”
He added that the request for an investigation “is a gross abuse of the Senate’s ethical process and an obvious attempt to take revenge on the guerrillas”.
Both Hawley and Cruz, along with six other senators, face bipartisan criticism of voting against certification in Arizona and Pennsylvania. They maintained their position even after several of their fellow senators withdrew their objections after Congress was forced to evacuate because of the mob attacking the Capitol building.
If the investigation continues and the committee finds any wrongdoing by the two senators, they may face discipline from the Senate. Under the Constitution, Congress has the exclusive power to discipline its members – although it is rare for members to face punishment.
The Senate may expel or convict its members. Expulsion requires two-thirds of the vote in the Chamber. Censorship requires a majority of votes.
But according to Senate.gov, only 15 U.S. senators have been expelled since 1780 – all for disloyalty to the United States. Most of them were removed to support the Confederacy during the Civil War.
The Senate rebuked nine of its members between 1811 and 1990 for “conduct that tends to lead the Senate to dishonor and bad reputation.” Most of the most recent cases involve senators who have been found to have misrepresented gifts or used campaign funds for their own benefit.
The seven Democrats who drafted the letter to the Ethics Committee believe Hawley and Cruz have violated the Civil Service Code of Ethics, which requires elected officials to “[p]loyalty to the highest moral principles and to the state above loyalty to persons, party or state department “and”[u]follow these principles, always realizing that public service is public trust. ”
Senator Smith, Minnesota, said Thursday that he believes Hawley and Cruz should be removed from the Senate.
“Meaning. Cruz and Hawley deserve a fair trial and a chance to explain themselves and their role in the siege of the Capitol on January 6,” Smith wrote in a tweet. “But unless we learn something new, based on what we’ve seen so far, I don’t believe they deserve to stay in the Senate.”